Author Archives: Hector Denfield

Council publishes revised plans for Tooting Commons low traffic neighbourhood pilot scheme

Drum roll! Full details here:

https://www.wandsworth.gov.uk/news/july-2020/revised-plans-for-tooting-commons-low-traffic-neighbourhood-pilot-scheme/

Update on the Tooting Common Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN)

We met today with the council’s transport officers and with Cllr John Locker, the new Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Transport, who took over from Cllr Paul Ellis on 15 July. Cllr Locker has been understandably settling in and getting up to speed with his new job in the last seven days, which is why there was no news to report last week.

We were shown an updated design for the Tooting Common LTN (this is the name the council has now given this LTN) and we provided feedback on the new design. The council is now finalising the design and hopes to be able to formally announce something early next week.

As always, this could change at short notice, so there may be an announcement sooner/later.

We also discussed the Graveney LTN, which is still a work in progress for the council. As it covers a much larger area than the Tooting Common LTN it is taking a while longer for them to develop and sign off.

Transport for London Streetspace changes to the A24 (Balham High Road, Upper Tooting Road, Tooting High Street)

Residents who live near the A24 should have received this letter (pdf) from Transport for London (“TfL”) today. Installation work is set to begin in mid-late July 2020, ie in the next couple of weeks.

The changes set out in the letter are part of TfL’s Streetspace for London programme, which will create more space for people to safely walk and cycle. As the letter says:

As London continues to emerge from the Coronavirus lockdown we will need to find new ways to travel. Enabling social distancing to happen on public transport as lockdown restrictions are eased will mean everyone who can do so will need to find alternative ways to travel. Public transport must only be used when absolutely necessary. However, if the number of trips taken by private vehicles increases, London will grind to a halt, with essential deliveries and emergency services stuck in gridlock. That’s why, together with London’s boroughs, we are developing the Streetspace programme to create more space for people to safely walk and cycle.

The programme will both help Londoners to walk and cycle more often, and enable them to safely social distance while they do so. It will also help improve our air quality, making London greener.

Our scheme between Balham and Colliers Wood is part of this wider programme. This is a strategic cycling corridor which follows the Northern Line from Colliers Wood to Elephant and Castle with connections onwards to City of London. Our plans will help to reduce pressure on the Northern Line and assist local buses by making it safer for people to walk and cycle through the area.

The changes are set out in the letter and on the maps. The changes will be made on a temporary basis, and include:

  • New lightly segregated cycle lanes using wands similar to the ones shown in the photo in the letter
  • Bus stop bypasses for cycles wherever possible which will also provide further footway for pedestrians
  • Existing bus lanes will be converted to 24/7, except for the bus lane between Totterdown Street to Mitcham Road southbound which will be 7am-7pm.
  • Bus lanes increased across the scheme by 190m. A section of bus lane is however being removed between southbound between Ritherdon Road and Tooting Bec Road to provide cycling facilities and a new 24hr bus lane created between 215 Balham High Road to Ritherdon Road southbound. Further small increases in bus lane length throughout the scheme.
  • Improved footway to allow social distancing along Balham High Road, Chestnut Grove and at the junction of Mitcham Road/Tooting High Street
  • No entry (except cycles) from A24 onto Balham Park Road, Dafforne Road, Noyna Road, Fircroft Road, Foulser Road, Topsham Road, Mandrake Road and Ansell Road
  • No right turn onto A24 (except cycles) from Trinity Crescent, Dafforne Road, Noyna Road, Fircroft Road, Foulser Road, Topsham Road, Mandrake Road, Brudenell Road, Lynwood Road, Gatton Road and Selkirk Road.
  • No left turn onto A24 (except cycles) from Trevelyan Road
  • No left turn (except cycles) from A24 onto Chestnut Grove, Brudenell Road, Lynwood Road, Derinton Road, Woodbury Street, Gilbey Road and Sellincourt Road
  • No left turn (except cycles and buses) from A24 onto Ritherdon Road and Balham Station Road
  • No right turn (except cycles) from A24 onto Totterdown Street
  • Multiple parking and loading bays will be removed from A24. Most loading and disabled bays will be relocated to nearby side roads. On side roads you will be able to load in marked bays between 10am-4pm Mon-Sun for a max time of 20 minutes.
  • Disabled bays will be in operation for max 3hrs.

For Bedford ward, the relevant changes are shown in this map (extracted from the letter):

The letter sets out the next steps and who you can contact about this:

Next steps

Although we are not undertaking a formal consultation on this scheme, we would like to know about your experiences of it once it is in place. We will be monitoring the effects of the Streetspace programme over the coming months and hope many of the schemes we are introducing could become permanent additions to London’s walking and cycling network.

We would need to undertake a consultation on any scheme we propose be made permanent, and we will use the outcome of any consultation to help decide which schemes we should take forward over the next 18 months.

If you have any comments about the effects of our scheme, or suggestions for changes or improvements we might make, please let us know at streetspacelondon@tfl.gov.uk

The associated public notice is on the Wandsworth Guardian website here: https://www.wandsworthguardian.co.uk/announcements/public_notices/notice/134603.ROAD_TRAFFIC_REGULATION_ACT_1984/

The A24 is a Greater London Authority road, which means that it is controlled by TfL, rather than by the various councils that the A24 passes through. Ultimately, TfL can make whatever changes it wants to this road (within legal boundaries). That said, we understand that TfL has consulted on these changes with the three London councils that Cycle Superhighway 7 passes through: Lambeth Council, Wandsworth Council, and Merton Council. As ward councillors, we were not involved in the development of these changes.

These changes are separate to the Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) that Wandsworth Council is planning to install, but both are part of the Streetspace programme. See this post for further details on LTNs.

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods FAQ

What is a Low Traffic Neighbourhood/LTN?
A Low Traffic Neighbourhood (“LTN”) is, as the name suggests, a neighbourhood (usually residential) that has had various measures installed to reduce the amount of traffic that passes through the neighbourhood. The measures can include no entry signs, one-way roads, traffic flow arrows, lockable gates, and wooden planters (these are physical barriers that prevent cars and vans from passing through but permit bicycles, mopeds and motorcycles). A LTN changes how cars are able to access the neighbourhood. There is much more information in the two documents provided here: https://lcc.org.uk/pages/low-traffic-neighbourhoods

What’s good about a LTN?
They reduce car journeys by an estimated 15%, which has many benefits:

  1. tackles climate change;
  2. reduces air pollution. This is great for our health generally, particularly the health of young children, but even more so now as there is growing evidence that air pollution exacerbates COVID-19: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/04/is-air-pollution-making-the-coronavirus-pandemic-even-more-deadly;
  3. people feel safer cycling and walking, especially to schools. Again, this is great for our health generally, but it is also really important now that people are avoiding public transport due to coronavirus. We need to give people safe, healthy, affordable alternatives to public transport; and
  4. a calmer, more peaceful environment to live in.

What is the council doing with LTNs?
The council has decided to install nine experimental, trial LTNs in various places around Wandsworth. We stress the words “experimental” and “trial”. All of the LTNs are subject to change based on feedback and evidence. They will be installed in the following areas:

  • Elmbourne Road and Hillbury Road
  • Twilley Street junction with Kimber Road
  • Dover House Road and Genoa Avenue
  • Westbridge Road / Battersea Church Road / Battersea Square
  • Thamesfield (Charlwood Road, Oxford Road)
  • Fishponds Road
  • Beechcroft Road
  • Garratt Lane/Aboyne Road
  • Graveney ward – this covers an area from Tooting Bec Road to Longley Road

Where can I find more details on these LTNs?
The designs of the nine LTNs are not yet finalised so they are not yet available for inspection. As soon as the council releases them we will share the details with you on this blog.

The council’s committee paper where these were proposed and agreed is titled “COVID 19 and The Urban Realm (Paper No. 20.169)” and is item 71 here: https://democracy.wandsworth.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=678&MId=6531&Ver=4

Tell me more about the Elmbourne/Hillbury LTN.
The Elmbourne/Hillbury LTN is one of the nine experimental, trial LTNs that the council is planning to install. The full designs of the Elmbourne/Hillbury LTN are not yet available, but as soon as the council releases the final designs we will link to them on this blog. The council sent letters to some residents in the Heaver estate on 26 June which contained some initial designs for the Elmbourne/Hillbury LTN, but the council withdrew these initial designs on 29 June. If you still have a copy of that letter it is now out of date!

Why did the council withdraw the initial designs for the Elmbourne/Hillbury LTN?
A number of reasons, but as we understand it, the primary reason was because there was a consultation on completely closing Dr Johnson Avenue (“DJA”) four years ago which resulted in a decision by the council not to close DJA, and this had not been fully factored in to the initial designs for the Elmbourne/Hillbury LTN.

As with every decision the council makes, it is not necessarily set in stone forever, and could be overturned or distinguished through the appropriate council processes. But unless and until it is overturned or distinguished, it has to be factored in to any new policies involving DJA.

Why has there been no consultation on these nine new LTNs?
One of the many, many changes brought about by the coronavirus pandemic is the way that people travel around London. Passengers on the tube have declined by 95% and passengers on buses have declined 85%: https://tfl.gov.uk/info-for/media/press-releases/2020/april/transport-for-london-to-place-7-000-staff-on-furlough-to-help-safeguard-vital-transport-services.

People are now using their cars to travel much, much more than they did before the pandemic. If the government, Transport for London (“TfL”), and local councils don’t take action in the next week or two as the lockdown eases, then air pollution will skyrocket, and the city will hit gridlock with so many more cars on the road.

As such, TfL has made £55m of funding available to the 33 councils in London as part of its “Streetspace for London” programme to urgently create new segregated cycle lanes, extend pavements and close roads to traffic. This will make it safer for people to walk and cycle. Wandsworth Council has been given £1,923,500 by TfL to spend on various schemes, including LTNs. TfL’s guidance for this funding states:

“Given the urgency of the crisis, TfL are looking to work with Boroughs on implementing measures as quickly as possible, which, in some instances, will mean the use of cheap materials. All projects that form part of this programme must demonstrate an urgent and swift response to the crisis and should be implemented as soon as possible.”

https://tfl.gov.uk/info-for/boroughs-and-communities/streetspace-funding

This means that Wandsworth Council, and all London councils, need to install these LTNs asap in order to secure the TfL funding. This means there is no time for consultation in advance. The council will still be conducting a consultation, but it will happen at the same time as the trial LTN is in place, rather than before the LTN is installed (which would be the usual order of things).

How long will the trial LTNs last?
We do not know yet, we are waiting for the council to make a final decision on this point.

What happens at the end of the trial?
The LTN will either be made permanent, amended, or removed entirely. It all depends on how the trial goes.

What if the LTN doesn’t work – do we have to wait until the trial is over?
The trial LTNs will be installed pursuant to an “Experimental Traffic Order” (“ETO”). An ETO can be modified at any time, hence the word Experimental in the title. If a LTN is installed and it quickly becomes clear that something has gone badly wrong, then the council can modify the designs and change the layout of the LTN to respond to this.

What about access for police cars and ambulances?
The emergency services are exempt from things like no entry signs and traffic flow arrows, and they have a key to open any lockable gates.

What about access for delivery drivers?
Delivery cars and vans must obey all of the rules of the LTN. Delivery mopeds and motorcycles must obey things like no entry signs and traffic flow arrows, but they may be able to pass by any wooden planters, depending on the rules of that particular LTN.

Who can I write to about this?
There are many ways to make your voice heard:

  1. the council will be holding an official consultation and as soon as the council launches this we will let you know;
  2. you can email any of us at: cllr.h.denfield@wandsworth.gov.uk, cllr.c.fraser@wandsworth.gov.uk, cllr.f.anderson@wandsworth.gov.uk
  3. you can join one of your local neighbourhood groups – several have sprung up in the last week. Ask your neighbour to be added to the WhatsApp group/email list.

What’s the difference between “the council” and “the councillors”?
Wandsworth Council is currently controlled by the Conservative party.

The Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Transportation (who is the lead person at the council for transport) is a Conservative councillor.

The Strategic Planning and Transportation Overview and Scrutiny Committee (which is the committee at the council which makes transport decisions) is also controlled by the Conservative party.

The Elmbourne/Hillbury LTN is situated in “Bedford ward”, which is one of 20 wards in Wandsworth. There are three councillors elected in Bedford ward – Clare, Fleur and Hector. This is our blog. We are all members of the Labour party. When it says “we” in this post, it means Clare, Fleur and Hector. When it says “the council” it means the Conservative-controlled Wandsworth Council.

So, even though Bedford ward is a “Labour ward”, the council is a “Conservative council” (although we’re working on that…), and so all decisions regarding transport, including the Elmbourne/Hillbury LTN, are made by the Conservative cabinet member and the Conservative-controlled transport committee.

On the initial Elmbourne/Hillbury LTN designs (which the council quickly withdrew), we were not invited to be involved and we were caught by surprise along with everyone else. Following that, we asked to be consulted on any subsequent designs. On Monday 6 July we had a meeting with the council about their revised Elmbourne/Hillbury LTN designs, during which we passed on all of the feedback we have received from residents over the last 10 days about the Heaver LTN. The council took this feedback away and is making further amendments to the designs.

Ultimately, the designs for the Elmbourne/Hillbury LTN are controlled by the Conservatives and not us, but we have been consulted this time round.

Did the Bedford ward councillors lobby for or against the initial designs for the Elmbourne/Hillbury LTN?
Neither. The council announced the initial designs for the Elmbourne/Hillbury LTN without consulting us on them, and we were caught by surprise along with the whole Heaver estate. Before we had a chance to decide if they were a good or a bad thing, the council withdrew them. We spent every evening since they were announced meeting (digitally) with residents to find out what they thought, so we could understand the views of the people living in and around the area, so we could ultimately feed this back to the council.

Are the Bedford ward councillors in favour of the Elmbourne/Hillbury LTN generally?
Today, the council shared with us a new version of the designs for the Heaver LTN, and on the basis of those new designs we support the council and are in favour of the trial LTN going ahead, but we emphasise that it is a trial. We are keen to see how it plays out, and we want to see if it brings the benefits that it should do. We will also be looking to see what disbenefits it brings. If it does not work overall, we won’t be afraid to say so. We are not pre-judging the final outcome – we can only do that once we have seen the LTN in action and we have pored over the real-life data collected from the trial.

What data will be collected during the trial?
The council is planning to lay several traffic counting strips at various places around the Heaver estate to collect data on traffic patterns and behaviour. We have asked the council to publish these data publicly for all to see and we hope that will happen.

I heard one of the councillors lives on Elmbourne Road and that’s why the Heaver LTN has been proposed.
None of us three live on Elmbourne Road. We are not aware that any of the other 57 councillors on Wandsworth Council live on Elmbourne Road either. Don’t believe everything you read on Nextdoor!

14 July update:

This post used to refer to a “Heaver LTN” and now it refers to a “Elmbourne/Hillbury LTN”, what happened there?
We were using “Heaver LTN” as a shorthand name for the scheme, but it seems to have caused some confusion, so we have reverted to the previous name: the “Elmbourne/Hillbury LTN”. This is more of a mouthful but hopefully more specific and less confusing!

Is the Elmbourne/Hillbury LTN definitely going ahead now?
It’s not definitely going ahead but it’s not definitely cancelled either. The council have been working on the designs but have not made a final decision one way or the other. We’ll let you know as soon as we know anything definite.

Any news on the Graveney ward LTN?
Like the Elmbourne/Hillbury LTN, the council is still working on the designs and nothing is finalised yet. As soon as we have anything to share we’ll post it here.

Our comments on the Tooting Triangle planning application

The Planning Applications Committee of Wandsworth Council (“PAC”) is meeting tomorrow night to decide on an application that will decide the future of Tooting Triangle and the various services and organisations that call it home. The text below is our submission to the PAC which will be read out to the PAC on our behalf by the chair.

Representation from Councillor Clare Fraser

Thank you chair for reading this representation on my behalf.

I have consulted with local groups and am asking the committee to defer agreement on the proposal this evening but to return the plans to the developer for reconsideration.

This application will have a negative impact on:

  1. the stay and play provision;
  2. Balham Boxing Club;
  3. gender equality in the provision of facilities;
  4. local wildlife and biodiversity;
  5. light pollution;
  6. common use of common land; and
  7. urbanisation of common land.

When this proposal was discussed at the Education and Children’s Services Committee – with huge opposition from local parents – we were told that there would be some reduced continuation of the stay and play provision. But, the developer’s plans do not include any firm statements in regards to the current stay and play provision, which is a vital service for our local pre-school children, parents and carers. The plans do not state if TFC will charge lower than £2.50 per session or indeed continue the current free provision, what the provision offer will be or if it will reflect the current offer.

I know the committee have received a statement from Balham Boxing Club (BBC), who, despite being part of this site for many years, have been kept in the dark in regards to this application. The plans presented this evening present a vast departure to those presented to BBC at initial stages, and something they would never have agreed to.

Paper 18-432, which was agreed at the Finance and Corporate Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee in November 2018, states at paragraph 10:

“The proposed development of the current building will provide toilets, showers, changing rooms, office space, a reception area and space for the BABC, together with publicly accessible toilets and a publicly accessible refreshment facility, all within a building that would be approximately 100 square metres larger than the current one.”

This is not what tonight’s application promises. Tonight’s application shows BBC losing their kitchen, storage and a reduction in gym space to their current provision, and female changing rooms which are an insult in comparison to the male changing room. These plans almost guarantee BBC will not be able to survive: they will not be able to sell as many tickets to their fundraising events because their maximum spectator capacity will be much reduced, and they will not be able to sell refreshments to spectators. These fundraising events provide the club with its only source of revenue, which in turn gives it the ability to provide provision and outreach to vulnerable groups. Tonight’s application is not fit for purpose for BBC and reneges on previous promises. For this reason it should not be agreed and should be sent back to the developer for reconsideration.

This weekend has seen the local community voice their strong opposition to plans to commercialise this much cherished area of the Common. It includes comments by bodies such as Tooting Common MAC and the Friends of Tooting Common. Indeed, the community and groups such as the MAC were unhappy when a proposal was presented for the site in 2008 by Goals which ultimately resulted in a judicial review, something which I could foresee happening again. The current climate crisis and COVID-19 pandemic have reinforced stronger feelings for protecting the integrity and openness of Tooting Common.

Tooting Common MAC oppose the application in its entirety because of the inclusion of floodlighting. There have not been working floodlights in this area for many, many years, and in that time the biodiversity of the area has thrived, especially the bat population. Adding floodlights to this area, especially with the long proposed hours of operation, will negatively impact upon the natural biodiversity of the site’s surroundings, not to mention the added light pollution which will negatively impact upon surroundings. The addition of floodlights represents a significant, harmful change to the area.

Should this application be approved, the redgra pitch would be taken out of the common, and out of common use. This is a fundamental shift from publicly accessible to all, to privately controlled and accessible only to a paying few. This would be a sad change to the face of the Triangle and its surroundings.

The developer’s “Green Transport Plan” notes that there is no parking provided. However, nothing is being proposed to adequately address other modes of transport, with only the minimum amount of bike parking provided. This will inevitably incentivise driving and create parking problems due to the lack of parking available on Cavendish Road.

This application will result in a loss of trees, shrubs, grassland and a resulting impact on birds, insects, other wildlife, impact on air quality, wellbeing and health of common users. An attempted mitigation by way of tree planting does not seem adequate to counteract the increased urbanisation of the site. The Design and Access Statement’s claim that the development will ‘increase community cohesion’ seems wrong in that respect.

Much as I, and my fellow Bedford ward councillors, would like to support an application which seeks to improve this site, we can only do so if it works for all the various parts and users of this site, and what has become clear to us, is that this is far from the case.

Green roof at Tooting Bec Lido

I’ve got a thing about green roofs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zq66nf3macs

Climate change is the number one issue in the world today and it is going to take all of us working together to fix it. Some things will require an investment of money upfront, but this will save money in the long run, as the cost of dealing with climate fallout will be astronomical.

Tooting Bec Lido is having its pump room redeveloped. One of the conditions of the planning permission granted for the redevelopment was that the new pump room must have a green roof, in accordance with the GRO Green Roof Code 2014. Considering the pump room, and the rest of the lido, is situated within the boundaries of Tooting Common, it is particularly appropriate that this building should have a green roof.

It was therefore disappointing to find out that the council has applied to remove the green roof condition from the planning permission. You can see the application here: https://planning1.wandsworth.gov.uk/Northgate/PlanningExplorer/Generic/StdDetails.aspx?PT=Planning%20Applications%20On-Line&TYPE=PL/PlanningPK.xml&PARAM0=988862&XSLT=/Northgate/PlanningExplorer/SiteFiles/Skins/Wandsworth/xslt/PL/PLDetails.xslt&FT=Planning%20Application%20Details&PUBLIC=Y&XMLSIDE=/Northgate/PlanningExplorer/SiteFiles/Skins/Wandsworth/Menus/PL.xml&DAURI=PLANNING

The reason given is:

The extensive biodiverse roof in accordance with the GRO Green Roof Code 2014 would be expensive to build and be maintained – it would be more appropriate to match the roof typology of the adjacent North Room. Furthermore, its thickness could compromise the space for the mechanical equipment to be accommodated in the South Room.

I take issue with the reasoning:

  1. Expensive to build and maintain – as above, tackling climate change requires money upfront to save much more money in the long run.
  2. More appropriate to match the North Room – the North Room has a felt roof, and I cannot see how a felt roof is more appropriate than a green roof for a building situated in a natural area like Tooting Common.
  3. Thickness “could” compromise space – this sounds like conjecture, which is not helpful. If the calculations have been done and as it stands the equipment won’t fit then say so. If the calculations haven’t been done then don’t speculate. A green roof can be as thin as 10cm, will that really reduce the ceiling height to the point where the equipment will not fit? In any event, the south room is having a large area excavated to house the pump, so could this not be excavated just a little deeper to create the necessary depth?

We will be making comments on the application in the above terms.

O2 application to erect 17.5m mobile phone mast in the middle of Tooting Common

When someone opposes a planning application, they are often accused of “NIMBYism” – Not In My Back Yard-ism!

But sometimes, opposing a planning application is entirely reasonable. When it comes to choosing the location for a mobile phone mast, we would suggest that right bang smack in the middle of Tooting Common is about the least appropriate place you could pick.

Cornerstone and Telefónica UK Ltd (who own O2) have applied to Wandsworth Council to install a 17.5m monopole inside the fenced depot on Dr Johnson Avenue.

You can see the whole application here: https://planning1.wandsworth.gov.uk/Northgate/PlanningExplorer/Generic/StdDetails.aspx?PT=Planning%20Applications%20On-Line&TYPE=PL/PlanningPK.xml&PARAM0=992225&XSLT=/Northgate/PlanningExplorer/SiteFiles/Skins/Wandsworth/xslt/PL/PLDetails.xslt&FT=Planning%20Application%20Details&PUBLIC=Y&XMLSIDE=&DAURI=PLANNING

You can see all the documents for the application and make a comment on the application here: https://planning.wandsworth.gov.uk/WAM/showCaseFile.do?appType=planning&appNumber=2019/4856

Perhaps one of the more interesting documents is the developer’s photo mock-up of the mast here: https://planning.wandsworth.gov.uk/WAM/doc/Drawing-5237197.pdf?extension=.pdf&id=5237197&contentType=application/pdf

We are opposed to this application for the following reasons:

(1) Tooting Common is a special place where people go to get into nature and relax. As such, building things on the common should be resisted unless absolutely necessary. Allowing this or any other development on the common is a very slippery slope.

(2) There must be somewhere less offensive it could go. When the developers contacted us, we suggested a number of alternative locations, including on top of the Lidl, or FItness First, or Argos on Balham High Road. Their response was a bit confusing:

“This option has been discounted by our Network specialist due to the low nature of the building. In order to provide the required coverage to the target area the telecommunications equipment would need to be taller than the surrounding buildings which would result in clutter protruding the skyline. An installation of this nature would not be supported by the Local Planning Authority.”

If you discount putting the mast on top of Lidl because it would result in clutter protruding the skyline, why don’t you discount putting it in the middle of Tooting Common, where it will also result in clutter protruding the skyline? It didn’t seem to make much sense to us.

(3) We think it looks pretty terrible. It’s a massive metal stick in the middle of a natural area.

In general we are of course in favour of improving the telecommunications network for the benefit our whole community, but this has to be balanced with other considerations, one of which is the protection of spaces which also benefit the whole community, such as Tooting Common.

Update on Tooting Triangle redevelopment

You may have seen our campaign in November 2018 to save the “stay and play” provision at the Tooting Triangle. After winning several concessions from the council back then, we have been waiting to see the planning application from the developer. The application has now been submitted:

https://planning1.wandsworth.gov.uk/Northgate/PlanningExplorer/Generic/StdDetails.aspx?PT=Planning%20Applications%20On-Line&TYPE=PL/PlanningPK.xml&PARAM0=987041&XSLT=/Northgate/PlanningExplorer/SiteFiles/Skins/Wandsworth/xslt/PL/PLDetails.xslt&FT=Planning%20Application%20Details&PUBLIC=Y&XMLSIDE=/Northgate/PlanningExplorer/SiteFiles/Skins/Wandsworth/Menus/PL.xml&DAURI=PLANNING

You can comment on the application up to 22 November 2019. Here are our thoughts:

  1. A soft play area has been included which means that there is the capacity to offer sessions for very young children similar to the existing stay and play. Wandsworth Tories have the power to make it a condition of the lease and/or planning permission that the developer must deliver a certain number of sessions and must deliver these for free. However, every time we asked Wandsworth Tories to keep the sessions free they refused. We will continue to make the case that these sessions should be free, but if you can email the chair of the Finance Committee, Cllr Aled Richards-Jones, and make a personal appeal, that would be very helpful. His email is cllr.a.richards-jones@wandsworth.gov.uk
  2. The male changing room is significantly larger than the female changing room. The design and access statement states: “Based on known usage at TFC’s other sports centres, the male changing rooms are larger than the female ones.  In the event of a sporting activity taking place with a mainly female attendance, these changing rooms can be interchangeable.” However, we think that the changing rooms should be equal in size. Access to facilities should be equal. It also sends entirely the wrong message to women and girls – we want to encourage greater female participation in sport, and that is not the impression given by a changing room that is much smaller. Whilst it may be true that “known usage” at other centres is currently male-dominated, that is precisely the situation we should be working to equalise.
  3. The bat habitat assessment report looks fine (although we are not experts on the subject) – the impact on bats of the new LED floodlights will be equal to or less than the impact of the current metal halide floodlights.
  4. The arboricultural report also looks fine (again, we’re not experts) – whilst the loss of four trees is disappointing, the addition of trees around the football pitches should compensate for this. We hope that the council’s Planning Applications Committee will ensure that planting more trees is a mandatory condition attached to any planning permission they may be minded to grant.
  5. Overall, the rest of the development is welcome.

We will be making representations in the above terms to the council through the online planning portal, and you can do the same.

Community RoadWatch events

Community RoadWatch (ie a police officer with a high-tech mobile speedgun) is coming to the following roads in Tooting:

3pm 28 June Streathbourne Rd
9am 3 July Avoca Rd
9am 9 July Mantilla Rd

Adults and children are welcome to have a go on the speedgun, so come along to try it out.

The speedgun measures how fast cars and motorbikes are travelling, and if any are recorded doing more than 24mph (ie more than 20% over the 20mph speed limit) then they are sent a letter by the police reminding them to slow down. Repeat offenders (those caught during previous Community RoadWatch events) can have points put on their licence and/or fines.

Drive safe!

Update to proposed changes to roads around Tooting Common

For the full background, see our previous post on proposed changes to roads around Tooting Common.

When we were told about the proposed changes it was not clear if the council would be conducting any consultation, so we launched our own survey to see how people felt about the changes. With the help of local volunteers (thank you!) we delivered letters notifying people about the changes and providing a link to our survey to every home on:

  1. Montana Road
  2. Avoca Road
  3. Elmbourne Road
  4. Hillbury Road
  5. Louisville Road
  6. Streathbourne Road
  7. Drakefield Road
  8. Manville Road

To date we have had 273 responses! Many thanks to those who completed the survey, it was vital data.

The results from our survey were fairly clear:

  1. For the two right turn bans, there was a clear negative view: 70% of people were against, 20% in favour, and 10% undecided.
  2. For taking the parking off the pavement and back onto the road on Elmbourne Road, it was pretty much even: 37% in favour, 39% against, 24% undecided.
  3. For all the other measures, there was a clear positive view: about 50% in favour, 25% against and 25% undecided for each.

We have been told by the council today that the two right turn bans will not be taken forward at this stage.

Next steps

Item 3 on our previous post had two parts to it:

  1. upgraded traffic calming and informal crossings on Dr Johnson Avenue; and
  2. a raised table at the junction of Elmbourne Road and Louisville Road to enable safer crossing for pedestrians (and in particular students from St Anselm’s primary school).

These two changes are going to be implemented right away.

In respect of items 4, 5, 6 and 7 from our previous post, the council is going to send a letter to the “local area” (we are not sure which roads this will cover) to inform residents of the other measures and invite comments. Provided the overall pattern of comments is positive then the council intends to implement those changes too.